Libertyville's Harrington takes the long view at Lake County meet
Libertyville standout swimmer Matt Harrington summed it up best.
"The Lake County Invite is always a great training meet and it's still early in the season so it also serves as kind of an experiment to see where you stand," the Princeton-bound senior said after winning the 500 freestyle, finishing second in the 200 freestyle and taking legs on the second-place 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
"I'm really working on getting mentally stronger. I do well and get off to good starts but then I tend to fall off at the end. Today I swam almost 900 yards. That's great for getting more familiar with the pain that goes along with getting stronger. Plus, by swimming the longer events it helps me finish stronger in the shorter events."
Incidentally, Harrington's times in the 200 (1:41.85) and 500 freestyle (4:43.89) were both school records, which made first-year coach Mike Cunningham even more ecstatic.
"I'm super stoked," said Cunningham, who spent 10 years building the lifetime fitness program at the University of Chicago before heading to Libertyville. "We had a lot of personal best times today. The guys are working hard and doing a great job."
Libertyville, the state runner-up from a year ago, finished fourth in the nine-team field with 149 points.
Host Stevenson, which finished second on Saturday with 232.5 points, is hoping for big things as well this season.
The senior-heavy Patriots, who were without three of their top sprinters, received second-place finishes from Nick Baginski in the 50 freestyle (22.46) and Nick Koto in the 500 freestyle (4:46.09).
"It's testament to our leadership and everyone stepping up and coming together like a band of brothers," Stevenson coach Greg Hartman said. "Second place is always nice but we're eyeing bigger prizes later in the season."
Barrington had itself a terrific meet as well in finishing third behind Stevenson with 213 points.
The Broncos were also missing three key swimmers in Andrew Fish, and Anthony and Andy Zhou. But coach John Valentine was pleased with the results after having to juggle the lineups a little but.
"As our guys say, this is a good benchmark against other teams," said Valentine, now in his sixth year as Broncos coach. "We really responded well. We're a little young but very talented and we're excited not only for now but the future looks really good too."
Barrington had two county champions. Colin Cross won the 200 individual medley in 2:01.74, and the 200 medley relay team of Colin O'Leary, Mitch Gavars, Cross, and Brandon Schaff won in 1:39.93.
And speaking of those adjustments Barrington had to make, Schaff, normally a middle distance swimmer, was thrown into that event at the last second only to post a nice split of 22.3.
"We started great winning that medley," the coach continued. "There's a bunch of rock stars on this team. They're working real hard and just finished their first cycle of training."
Vernon Hills turned in a nice performance after finishing sixth with 125.5 points. The 200 medley relay team of Jeffrey Zhang, Brian Rabinowitz, Calvin Yoon, and Conrad Kocoj picked up a second-place medal after swimming a 1:42.21. Kocoj also finished third in both the 50 (22.73) and 100 freestyle (49.66) events. Zhang picked up fourth-place hardware in the 100 backstroke (56.47) right after combining efforts with Nathan McAdams, Rabinowitz, and Kocoj to finish fourth in the 200 freestyle relay (1:32.72).
Mike Ward highlighted Mundelein's afternoon after finishing third in the 100 backstroke with a time of 56.17. The Mustangs finished seventh with 110.5 points, while Warren was eighth with 97.
Top finishers for Warren included Sean Stockwell, fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:07.43), and Tanner Nash, fifth in the 100 freestyle. Nash also joined Stockwell, Satya Arcot, and Matthew Rastovac to earn a fifth-place medal in the 200 medley relay (1:44.43).
"All we're trying to do is be consistent," said eighth-year Warren coach Chris Bertana. "We did OK today and were happy with our swims. By continually getting better and improving, it will only make us better in the end."
Lake Forest won the title with 267.5 points after producing county champions in eight of the 12 events.